Obama’s gaffe-tastic history

By now, you’ve probably seen that Pres. Obama signed the guest book at Westminster Abbey and then dated it “24 May, 2008.” Now, that’s a completely understandable mistake. On the rare occasions I write checks, I consistently have to remind myself what year it is, and I don’t have a zillion eyes following me. Not that I know of, at least.

I’ve interviewed famous, intelligent people. Captains of industry, or academic stars. And every single one of them has made at least a few grammatical errors during those interviews. Or they’ve gotten some facts about their own company or field of expertise wrong. Quite often, I’ve been told, “Don’t make me sound stupid, okay?” And that’s because everybody makes mistakes. Everybody. Including the president, whom I’m prepared to give a pass to on this dating issue.

But think back a few years. Remember when Dan Quayle misspelled “potato” during a visit to a school? His political career ended right there. Remember how George W. Bush was ridiculed for his many speaking gaffes? (And he had more than a few.) Frank Caliendo made his Bush impersonation and his John Madden the twin pillars of a comedy career.

So where’s the late-night comedy on Pres. Obama’s gaffes? The political cartoons lampooning him as having his feet in his mouth more than his fork? If you need a little refresher course, I’m happy to oblige.

He referred to the Austrian language.

He confused price-to-earnings ratio with something he called “profit and earnings ratio.”

He credited America for inventing the automobile, when Germany is actually the home of the auto.

He said that a lady born in 1922 “lived through two world wars,” when WWI was already over when she was born.

He referred to being in Ohio, when he was in Florida.

He wanted more Arabic speakers in Afghanistan, when Afghans don’t speak Arabic. (To be fair, I have a couple of Afghans I use during cold weather, and they don’t speak anything.)

He said his uncle helped liberate Auschwitz, when it was the Russians who did that.

While meeting with Iowans, he referred to the high price of arugula, to which one Iowan replied, “You can’t even get that here.”

And of course, he talked about America’s 57 states.

I could go on and on, and only pull from my files. The Hot Air blog has a daily section called the “Obamateurism of the Day.” (And which can be devilishly hard to find. Might want to fix that, guys.)

So if there’s all this rich material for mocking Pres. Obama, how come it doesn’t happen more regularly? David Letterman is still mocking George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, for crying out loud. How come “The Daily Show” doesn’t spend the first five minutes of each show outlining their version of Obamateurism of the Day?

I think Sundries Shack nails it. When you’re inside a media bubble, where pretty much everybody thinks like you, bias doesn’t seem like bias.

See, I don’t think they’re doing this intentionally. Abortion is not on their personal radar screens in the way gay marriage is, much in the same way that you don’t care about the Oakland Raiders all that much if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan. You don’t care if the Raiders score a field goal or get another first down like you do when the Packers do it. They’re not your team, so why think about it? I believe that’s the bias we see more often than not from the “objective” media sources. The reporters who write the stories and the editors who assign them live in their own mostly-progressive political worlds. Another poll that shows how distasteful the mainstream Democratic position on abortion is to the nation isn’t that big a deal, like that touchdown pass by Jason Campbell isn’t that big a deal to the guy wearing a cheesehead and a Clay Matthews jersey.

And so we get biased coverage that serves not to inform the public but to nudge them toward a particular worldview, just like that Packers fan is going to nudge his friends toward his team. That is the bias we conservatives fight most often every day. It’s the reason we holler when a left-wing stalwart gets hired to write a supposedly neutral political blog for a major newspaper (especially when that’s could describe almost every one of their political bloggers).

And inside that bubble, it’s just not permissible to mock Pres. Obama as much as it was to mock Pres. Bush or any other right-wing figure.


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